I am convinced that I Get Around
is the greatest pop song ever. This year, this week, my mood today and for all time. I can’t get enough of it — it’s got it all. Stomping rhythm and cool tempo changes, riffs and handclaps. The Fender bass. The call and response harmonies and sheer automotive optimism. The Brian lead line unifying the whole track. So much vocal beauty and interplay and melodic appeal in a song celebrating cars and chicks; the way the chorus so joyously sails off and takes you on board; and historically speaking, the first time (ever) that cruising and cool vocal harmonies were brought together. Another great American moment. So much value from a neat, compact little package. So much — even by the standards of 60s pop.
and the Fathy Salama Orchestra
, Vicar Street Dublin
Amazingly sophisticated big band playing a powerful blend of Afircan and Egyptian-Arabic music. I love big bands in almost any format — and here, I’d never thought how well Senegalese-African blends with Egyptian-Arabic — the reminder is that Egyptian culture is historically an extension of the African tradition. A different world of virtuosity; a different sense of enjoyability (I’m starting to think along this axis: patient, open wide earthy music and rhythm vs. the quick sugar fix of Western pop and structure). A gifted voice. Dramatic and contrapuntal strings. A potent sense of this being truly healthy
music — good for the body and
the soul. Though the language barrier prevented a direct connection — the feeling was there so strongly in the music and affective import. I was expecting something more Nusrat-styled, but last night was closer to Om Kalsoum, not the Persian East. Had a vision of the woven interconnectivity of near-Eastern music from the gifted oud player — a carpet of influence from India into the Arab lands (which way Indian music did
spread) — with the spiritual approach to virtuosity and improvisation; and which spread upwards into Europe via the guitar and with folk/gypsy musics.
One strange turn of event (before the music) was the band members’ expressed discomfort with playing a licensed venue in the middle of Ramadan. Mr Promoter came out and begged indulgence and understanding and asked if all drinks could be finished within 20 minutes (the band finally came on about 50 minutes after schedule (which also had to do with the bar closing and everyone shuffling slow and dawdling to their seats). Bear in mind that Dubliners tend to bring in about two or three pints for a show — this was no mean feat. Imagine the restless audience going for regular pissstops. In my growing misanthropic state I can’t see any reason for bringing a big band such as this, playing serious music, to Dublintown with all its drunken hecklers. Still, it must’ve been some managerial/booking agent oversight of the kind freshly-multicultural Ireland is newly coming to grips with.
Also of note was the decidedly middle-aged constitution of the audience. I felt very, very old of a sudden. An old rocker with leather pants and vest here, a bearded greyhead with a new age couple there, him in a ‘save the whales’ shirt. I got to thinking: what is it about World music (and how I loathe that blandly levelling moniker) that draws out the middle-age new-agers? Is it the safety of the music? The continuation of a touristic mentality? My third wife and me went to Turkey for our honeymoon and now she wants to go bellydancing? Or is it that mocking Western search for an easily-accessible or essential and authentic spiritual experience as expressed through ethnic and other-worldly folk traditions? And all the cynicism that implies. It’s a difficult bind to view the industry in, and it warrants further essaying because there’s a scrap of truth there; at the same time that all
rhythm musics are vitally exciting, and how partaking in the full spectrum of human expression is a noble thing.